I am a white South African 35 year old mom of two wonderful, incredible black children. Joshua Siviwe is 3 years old, (found) abandoned in a field in one of our numerous black townships and Cayla Joylin is 16 months old fortunately (adopted) through one of our government hospitals. Fortunately for me growing up under the apartheid regime both my incredible parents where anti-apartheid activists and as a result the effects, knowledge and understanding not only of the word racism but also the very real hurt this word causes was a daily reality for me. Post apartheid it amazed me how many South Africans loudly protested ever having being racist and left me pondering how a regime could last 40 years without anybody supporting them. Recently in my own life I discovered that in my group of friends ... about 6 couples ... one of them is still extremely racist and look upon my transracial adoption in as the biggest sin this world has... as a result we have been excluded from various occassions due to the fact she did not wish to have black people in her home... when I confronted my best friend regarding this she said .... "Yes I know she is racist and does this but I am not and still invite you into my home and love your children"... so this is how the apartheid regime stayed in place.... It is easier to say I am not a racist so therefore if someone else is then it is not my issue but theirs. The fact that by doing nothing we condone the behaviour is forgotten. It is so much more confortable to remain outside the realm ... so much more comfortable not to confront the issues and let sleeping dogs lie. Racism is an attitude! Many white people do not see themselves as racist but underlying it all is the diversity. When I first bought Josh home... the biggest issue in most people's life was "How are you going to look after his hair?" .... my biggest issue was AM I EVER GONNA GET ANY SLEEP AGAIN?
Racism..... in any form no matter intentionaly hateful...or even hurtfully unintentional affects and degrades the person involved. Communication is the key and understanding our differences. Embracing them into our lives and our work is the key to one day not seeing colour. I am being completely honest when I tell you I no longer see my childrens colour but rather the people they are and the personalities they will yet become. When we as a human race can look at each other as exactly that.. another human being ... we will understand the beginnings of a much used word RESPECT and from that will come understanding...from understanding will come tolerance and from tolerance will come love.
To live "outside" the box of what society has deemed in normal is the most rewarding and enriching experience of a lifetime. I often say to white people in my life if their is something in another culture (of which we have offically 13) or another lifestyle why not ask that person and allow them the opportunity to enrich you and your knowledge ... we learn about everything else in our lives in pursuit of education why not learn about each other... (in respect to the hair question I went into a african beauty salon and found they where more than eager to explain the ins and outs of hair to me.... I know know how to braid hair and how to do dreadlocks all by myself...proud mum or what!)
My ultimate message is BE KIND TO EACH OTHER, BE GOOD TO EACH OTHER, LIVE FREE AND RESPECT EACH OTHER. The basis to just being a good person.
I firmly believe that embracing diversity and celebrating differences are the way to combat racism -- 'tolerance' does not work.